Commemoration, Controversy, and Campus Buildings: A Case Study—Virginia Tech, 1997-2020

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Part historical reconstruction and part memoir by a participant observer, this article reveals the path that led, between 1997 and 2020, to three changes in names of campus residence halls at Virginia Tech. Major spurs to such reconsiderations of the names of campus buildings at many schools over the past decade were the shooting murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015, the “Unite the Right” violence in Charlottesville in August 2017, and the public murder of a Black man by a uniformed police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020. The particulars of the Virginia Tech story were more local and began earlier—in 1997–1998 and 2004–2005—but converged with the national narrative in 2020.



Education, Higher, Virginia, Commemoration